Is HBO Max’s ‘The Sex Lives of College Girls’ a new binge-worthy show?


Promotional poster for the new TV series “The Sex Lives of College Girls” on HBOMax. Graphic sourced from IMDb. Protected copyright of Warner Media. Used for identification purposes.

Katrina Sanville, Arts Editor

As the fall semester draws to an end and students begin to have a bit of time to themselves, many Beacons may look for a television series to provide themselves with entertainment during the winter break. While they could put on the new season of “Tiger King” or rewatch “Criminal Minds” for the third—or thirtieth—time, why not try a bit more of a light-hearted series with plenty of ties to the college-student audience of UMass Boston?
HBO Max’s new series “The Sex Lives of College Girls” premiered on the streaming platform on Nov. 18, after weeks of promoting on social media—especially TikTok. It was nearly impossible to scroll on TikTok without getting at least a couple of ads displaying the show’s bubbly, lighthearted tone.
Despite its fairly crude title, “The Sex Lives of College Girls” doesn’t solely focus on what the title states. The show follows four college roommates—Bela, Whitney, Kimberly and Leighton—as they navigate their freshman year of college at the coveted Essex University. Whether this involves the trials and tribulations of fitting in with peers, learning the ropes of a new job, figuring out their own identity, and of course, their love lives, the four girls find themselves in the hectic world of university.
Overall, this show has been really enjoyable so far and entertaining to watch. Shows about college life aren’t very common on television—with the only show that has a lasting impact on my memory being “Greek.” However, that aired well over 10 years ago, so watching a show that was in this setting and a bit more realistic was great as a college student. In addition to this, all of the college-aged characters are played by actors who could reasonably pass as the “traditional” college student, which was an enjoyable contrast to the traditional “30-year-old high schooler” movies and television use.
The show also has a slight binge-watching style, which definitely caters to the younger generations’ watching habits. The old standard of waiting for weekly episodes has more or less gone out of style in favor of binge-watching an entire season in the span of a day or two. Since this style of consuming media isn’t the healthiest, “The Sex Lives of College Girls” has modified the binge-watching way slightly. Each week, two to three episodes are released, which plays off both the weekly release model and the binge-watching one. I found this to be a great middle ground since I had enough content to keep my attention but still want more afterwards, however not so much that I blow through the entire season in a day and burn out.
Most appealing to me was how open-ended the characters were. The characters’ motives weren’t cut and dry and laid out within the first episode or two, and although the main characters have some things they would like to achieve within the semester or year—such as joining an elite comedy guild, succeeding on the soccer team or their job, or figuring out their sense of self—the path along the way gets confusing. This is something I know I personally can relate to, and many other college students can as well.
However, the show is not without its fallbacks. It definitely seems a bit out of touch, whether it’s through outdated language or overdone young adult life. If movies and television shows that try to appeal to the young generations with slang or internet speak are painful to sit through, this show may not be for you.
The series also may be off-putting to UMass Boston students due to the nature of the college itself. In contrast to the “common person” college students at UMass Boston—many of whom have to take out loans or have financial aid in order to attend college—the elite, luxurious Essex University can seem like another universe. With its Greek life and students with dozens of Louis Vuitton bags and parents that purchase buildings, Essex seems more relatable to some other Boston schools than UMass Boston itself.
But there are some parallels for UMass Boston students. Kimberly, in contrast to her roommates, comes from a traditional working class family and needs to work an on-campus job in order to pay for her education. Kimberly even states without her job she could not attend Essex, which many UMass Boston students—including myself—can definitely relate to in some way, even though UMass Boston is different from the elite Essex.
“The Sex Lives of College Girls” airs on HBO Max on Thursdays. The first eight episodes are currently on the platform, with two more episodes to be released on Dec. 9. Whether you know where you’re headed in life or still trying to figure yourself out, I would definitely recommend checking this show out.